December 3, 2014

Corporate Welfare

The President threatened a veto of a "$450 billion package of special-interest tax provisions that the GOP leadership had negotiated with Harry Reid." The WSJ Ed Page suggests that could be a gift, but...

Alas, we're probably hoping for too much. The GOP-Reid package would have made many of the provisions permanent, but that has happily died with Mr. Obama's veto threat. But rather than let the tax favors die, the House GOP is moving this week to vote on another one-year extension of about 50 "temporary" tax subsidies.

Washington has been reauthorizing these temporary tax breaks since the 1980s, pausing to occasionally stuff more special-interest payoffs into the broader package. This latest House vote would cost taxpayers $44.7 billion over 10 years, and it includes tax perks for, among other national priorities, Hollywood films, wind turbines, Nascar owners and race horses.

I have been complaining on a couple comment threads that these tax expenditures are in many more pernicious than giveaways to the poor. My blog brothers have a gooberload of philosophical and efficacy objections to poverty expenditures, but I want to offer an olive branch and proposal.

Let's tackle corporate welfare first. Say nothing as billions are fraudulently shoveled to SNAP, EBT, and TANF users. Obamaphones? Well, we worry about the program but we want to do further investigation before offering specific proposals...

Meanwhile, let's cut special gifts to NASCAR (a great customer of my employer -- if this post mysteriously gets airbrushed...) Most of the race horse owners I see on TV look like they're eating pretty well. Hollywood, Wind Turbines -- well you get my drift.

Phase II is to tighten the thresholds. Still not cutting benefits to the poor, just ensuring that the most needy are getting served by more rigorous means testing.

Phase III -- after demonstrating success -- is to reform these programs to something more transparent to the funding taxpayers and more empowering to the recipients. This will need to be signed into law by a Republican President. But that is made more likely by blunting the portrayal of the GOP as attacking the poor. We're just protecting the taxes of the middle class.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at December 3, 2014 2:02 PM

Question for you, brother: does this link count as reducing corporate welfare (transferring tax dollars to a medical device manufacturer) or as eliminating a benefit to the disadvantaged? In light of this post and the comments to a previous one, I'd be curious to see how ThreeSourcers score this.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 3, 2014 4:41 PM

Well, first of all, Ben Domench's description is much funnier and more purile.

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2014 4:52 PM

In one of the few non-prurient sentences, Domenech says "The Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector and Romina Boccia note, by eliminating asset tests for 'all means-tested welfare programs for families with a child who is eligible for SSI', the disability program which is run through Social Security, as well as the asset test for 'all welfare when disabled children become adults.'"

I want more means and asset testing, so I am going to have to object.

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2014 4:58 PM

Now, see what happens? I tried to be a grown-up about this and not make reference to the limp economy or our dickless legislators (the politically-correct term, of course, is "testicularly challenged"), and someone has to go and write that (and the Federalist, no less).

My original question remains. And for that matter, how much do each of these cost, and how many did we buy? $444 million? How many Medicare recipients are there who need this? Who's prescribing them?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 3, 2014 5:05 PM

In re: means and asset testing, I'm going to have to join in your objection. Are we talking about length or girth here? How do they evaluate if you're needy enough in this regard to qualify?

Or do you mean that sentence more generally?

Anyhoo, there's a Bob Dole joke in there just waiting to be told, and now a Jose Canseco joke to go along with it.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 3, 2014 5:09 PM

I was really proud of both of us.

It's an actual medical benefit. The suppliers profit from the subsidies no doubt. But I'll throw this into the bucket of "I'm not cutting benefits until we cut corporate welfare."

I'll take a f-f-f- principled stand. (Damn, almost!)

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2014 5:13 PM

The new circumcision guidelines have been released.

Just sayin'...

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2014 5:37 PM

Wow. I am SO glad I was replacing brakes on the truck last night instead of watching this thread play out. I'll just sum up by asking, Is this the best way to save $444M in Medicare spending that Republican congressmen can come up with? Over, what, 10 years or something? Peanuts!

The payments were "grossly excessive," the deputy inspector general, Gloria Jarmon, said at the time, because Medicare paid more than twice retail prices for the pumps.

Thank you Ms. Deputy Inspector General, now please prepare a list of ALL the things for which Medicare paid more than twice retail prices. Gotta be one or two others.

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2014 2:53 PM

("Reach around the aisle" is pretty funny though.)

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2014 2:55 PM | What do you think? [9]